Safe at Last

When four-year-old Shayne was finally rescued from his home, he was near death and had suffered irreparable cognitive damage. His six-year-old brother, Joey, also suffered abuse and starvation. For many months beforehand, DSHS had received—and ignored—numerous warnings that the boys urgently needed help. Now, finally, Shayne and Joey are together and safe with their adoptive family. Read more about Shayne's case and Joey's case against the State of Washington, DSHS.


Shayne/JoeyOn March 7, 2007, Shayne (age four) was emergently rescued by the Snohomish County Fire Department from the home in which he had been starved and isolated. Shayne was near death: his heart rate was in the 30s, and his body temperature was 87 degrees. The firefighter who rescued Shayne called it “the worst case of neglect or malnourishment, either in a child or an adult” that he had ever seen.

For many months leading up to Shayne’s eventual rescue, the State of Washington, Department of Social and Health Services, received several warnings, from multiple sources, that Shayne was being abused, neglected, and starved. The complaints were graphic and urgent, and they were made by those with firsthand knowledge of Shayne’s peril. Nonetheless, DSHS did not take any steps to remove Shayne from the home.

Shayne/JoeyBetween May 2005 and October 2006, DSHS also received warnings that Shayne’s older brother, Joey (age six), was being physically abused, neglected, and starved in the same home. Those warnings were provided by several community members, including local law enforcement, school personnel, neighbors, and babysitters. DSHS failed to investigate the reports and failed to contact any of the individuals who had witnessed Joey’s abuse.

Eventually, the public learned that, despite receiving numerous warnings of severe abuse, neglect, and starvation, DSHS had not taken any steps to remove Shayne or Joey from harm’s way. The public was outraged and demanded answers. As a result, in April 2007, Governor Chris Gregoire ordered DSHS to conduct “an in-depth, multi-disciplinary review of this case.” The review concluded that DSHS abdicated its duty and that “the pattern of abuse and neglect was missed.”

David was asked to represent Shayne and Joey in separate lawsuits. In 2009, Shayne’s lawsuit was settled for $6 million. It’s the largest single-child plaintiff settlement that DSHS has ever paid. In 2011, Joey’s lawsuit settled for $2.85 million.

Recently adopted by loving parents, Shayne and Joey are now growing up together in a safe and nurturing home.
Areas of Expertise: Social Work Negligence, Nursing Home Negligence, Daycare Negligence, and School Negligence